Middleton Paper plans to fill Lumi sheeting gap

Jo Francis
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Middleton Paper is stepping up its bespoke sheeting offering to fill the gap left by Stora Enso’s exit from the coated woodfree market and the upcoming closure of its UK sheeting facility.

Jason Middleton: "There’s a real opportunity and a real niche for us here"
Jason Middleton: "There’s a real opportunity and a real niche for us here"

Around 140,000 tonnes per annum of Stora’s Lumi grade were previously sold into the UK. Following the papermaker’s decision to convert its Oulu mill to packaging board, stocks of Lumi are coming to an end, with the LumiPaper sheeting plant at Mendlesham winding down its operations by the end of the year.

Middleton Paper has three specialist Pasaban sheeters at its Walsall facility.

It is putting forward Burgo’s triple-coated Quartz range in Gloss and Silk as an alternative to Lumi.

The firm holds cutter reels and can sheet in bespoke and standard sizes, from 300x310mm up to 1,850x,2,200mm.

It also offers a 24-48 hour express conversion service.

Burgo Quartz is made at the Italy-headquartered manufacturer’s Ardennes mill in Belgium. Middleton has worked with the papermaker for over 20 years. 

Managing director Jason Middleton said the business was pleased to be able to promote Quartz as a “viable, permanent alternative to Lumi”.

“As we hold extensive stocks of cutter reels in our warehouse in Walsall, we are ideally placed to offer bespoke sizes to printers with faster turnaround times than can be achieved by paper mills from outside the UK,” he said.

“There’s a real opportunity and a real niche for us here. We’re really the only converter in the country that can do this – we can convert anything from lightweight 40gsm paper to 600gsm board.”

Simon Cartwright, sales manager at merchanting wing Vision Paper & Board, said the business aimed to highlight its fast turnaround service, especially given the concerns about the potential for Brexit-related delays at ports in the new year.

“There have been so many changes to supply recently that it can be difficult to keep up: paper mills reducing capacity and switching production to other grades may make viable sense to them, but it can leave printers stuck, especially when they have become accustomed to a certain paper or service level,” he commented. 

He said pricing would be “competitive” and was likely to be tiered based on required turnaround times.

“Our offering will be slightly different from Lumi. They would charge extras whereas we will give an all-encompassing price, with clear pricing so people understand what they’re getting for their money.”

Middleton said that he believed the business could potentially bring in some 10,000 tonnes in additional sales.

“We are also offering this service and the Burgo product to other merchants,” he added.

Middleton Paper is part of the £70m turnover, family-owned Middleton Group and sells more than 85,000 tonnes of paper a year.

It holds around 12,000-15,000 tonnes of paper and board in stock at its conversion and storage facility including flat sheets, web offset and CutStar reels, and cutter reels.

The group employs 300 staff. 

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